Every university student worries about making friends when they arrive on campus. ‘Will people like me?’ and ‘will I miss my friends?’ are totally normal questions to have, but when you’re arriving from overseas, the need to be social and make friends can be even more daunting.
Not only do you have social situations to navigate, but you also have to get used to another culture, surrounded by a weird-sounding language and weird-looking food.
But, if you follow these top tips, you’ll make friends in no time and really begin to feel like you’ve found a home away from home.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
It’s important to remember that making friends takes time. There’s no way you’re going to click with the first people you meet at university – and even if you do, there’s no pressure to become best friends with them right away.
Remember that university is a chance to truly be yourself and make new friends. Take some time to be social by exploring different friendship groups – and avoid the trap of clinging onto the first person you meet out of fear of loneliness.
While you may be missing your childhood bestie at first, don’t expect to replace that person in your life immediately. Genuine friendships require trust and respect, so take your time with finding your friends.
Meet as many people as possible
That person in front of you in the bus queue wearing a cool band t-shirt? Or the girl in your seminar who impressed you with Marxist philosophy? Go ahead and say hi! Talking to as many people as possible will show you how many cool and interesting people are around you in your new home.
It may seem scary at first, but one of the best things about being at university is everyone else is too. That means you have a ready-made talking point – you can ask them what they study, where they lived before uni, or even just ask them how their day is going.
Students tend to be very sociable people, and chances are they are looking to make new friends, too. If they are not friendly or you don’t have much in common, then at least you tried. And who knows, you may just meet your soulmate.
Do what you like doing
A big misconception about university is that all socialising centres around drinking and partying. While a lot of students do enjoy the odd beer, that doesn’t mean you’re marginalised if you don’t. In fact, lots of students don’t drink due to religious or personal reasons.
If this sounds like you, it’s worth investing your time into activities you know you enjoy rather than changing to fit in. This way, you will meet people who have similar interest and hobbies to you, instead of hanging out with a group you don’t fit in with.
Don’t be afraid to try new things
The saying goes ‘life starts where your comfort zone ends’ and this is particularly true when in a new environment. While it’s important to be true to yourself, it’s also important to try new things in a new place. Being open to new experiences and activities you would usually avoid at home will open you up to new opportunities, social situations, and friends who can show you a new way of looking at things.
If you’re normally an indoorsy type, why not try your hand (or feet) at hiking? Or if you prefer playing guitar in your room, why not join a band?
Having friends who share common ground with you but have a different outlook will help you to grow as a person and broaden your perspective. It’s these friends who provide us with inspiration and motivation to improve.
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. Try something new this week. Good Morning pic.twitter.com/rFQmR8FbEy
— After Hours with Kwame Oboadie (@AfterhoursGh) February 26, 2018
Embrace the experience
Remember you have an amazing opportunity ahead of you – and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Make sure you’re embracing every day of your international study experience.
Being out and about will make you fun and energetic – the kind of person everyone wants to be friends with. You’ll naturally bump into people and get chatting if you have a positive mindset, and it won’t be long until your new life is way more fun than your life at home.
Keeping busy and staying positive means people gravitate towards you and you’ll be having too much fun to be sad about being away from home!